Monday, August 13, 2018

MAILBAG: FIELDING QUESTIONS ON ALCOHOLISM & ADDICTIONS

It's been several months since I invited questions from blog readers on Alcoholism & Addiction, and did my best to provide answers. The last time proved to be a very worthwhile exercise as it shed plenty of light on what peoples' loved ones, or themselves, are battling with substance abuse. So after inviting more questions last week, here's my best swing at answering them:

1 - WHAT DOES IT MEAN TO BE ALCOHOLIC OR ADDICTED?

This comes up a lot and I'm guessing it's because people want to know if the symptoms they're feeling are a sign that they have a serious problem.

The first thing that comes to mind when answering this question is that the person-in-question has a pre-occupation with alcohol and their current supply of it (or whatever substance they're hooked on). It's on their mind most of the time throughout the day. For example: planning when's the next time they can drink, what they'll drink, where they'll get it, perhaps how they'll hide it, how they'll get home, etc. Normally fun events like weddings, sporting events, fishing trips and family gatherings really just turn out to be an excuse to drink, and unfortunately that's generally where bad things happen.

When looking at this question, it wouldn't hurt to look up the difference between alcohol abuse and alcohol dependence. Some people abuse alcohol periodically which may cause problems on occasion while others depend on alcohol to cope with life. Big difference.

And, perhaps the best answer to this question is the definition of Addiction: When you want to quit using a substance but are unable to, even when it's causing problems in your life.

2 - YOU LOST A PARENT RECENTLY AND HAVE OTHER CURRENT FAMILY CRISES. ARE YOU IN DANGER OF RELAPSING?

As a recovering alcoholic, I'm always in danger of relapsing! But no. I've examined this and I think that after 1,284 days sober, I've realized that getting drunk won't help matters. In fact, it would just add a host of new problems and make me feel worse. I don't need it, and booze has ruined enough of my life already.

But what DOES worry me is that with these recent hardships, my mind has returned to my old way of thinking. That is: "What if I do this?", "What if I do that?", "Maybe I shouldn't be here, but I should be there!", "What are people thinking of me?", "Am I doing a good enough job?", "Should I be at work?", "Should I be at home?", "Am I disappointing my family?", etc. All those thoughts were flooding through my head, round and round, at warp speed, for days on end. That's the rampant and raging Anxiety I lived with my entire life, which alcohol would cure for a night (but isn't an option anymore).

This scares the hell out of me! However I now know to tell my wife, call a sober friend, talk to my counsellor (Rand Teed), my sober coach (Bob Marier), slip into meditation or go to a meeting. Once I do this, the panic evaporates in minutes and I can get on with living normally.

3 - WHAT DO YOU WITH THE PHYSICAL CRAVINGS FOR ALCOHOL OR DRUGS?

IN MY OPINION, Addiction is a mental illness and therefore those physical cravings are your mind tricking your body into believing you need the substance. This was explained very well in the seminar I participated in with the Hazelden Betty Ford Center.

It's not surprising this question came from a reader who's in his first year of sobriety. I had three such attacks in Year 1 of my Recovery (later described as "Anxiety/Panic Attacks") by my Addictions Counsellor.

Thank God I had a sober companion with me, or my wife, at those times or else I would've fallen mightily. That's why it's tough for a single person to stay on course in Year 1, so it's imperative they continue to reach out for help in the tough times. Don't isolate!

4 - DID YOU GO TO A TREATMENT CENTRE FOR YOUR RECOVERY?

No but I wish I had. I certainly qualified for it because I had a huge, huge problem with alcohol. However I had a variety of stupid excuses not to go, which turned out to all be unfounded. I thought rehab facilities were scary places (they're actually just the opposite), I didn't want to be a financial drain on my employer or family (however they actually were more-than-willing to pay if it got me better), and I was afraid of what going to treatment would do to my reputation (which, in reality, was already blown to pieces but I was completely unaware of that in my alcoholic fog).

My counsellor said I took the long way to Recovery (out-patient support group meetings and one-on-one counselling) but at least I got there eventually because I badly, badly wanted sobriety. However now after touring treatment centres across the country - meeting the friendly staff and talking to patients - I really wish I had gone. Oh well, no looking back.

5 - WAS IT EMBARRASSING TO FACE AN INTERVENTION?

No, because my whole life was an embarrassment at the time. It was sort of an "add it to the pile" mentality. My opinion of myself was very, very low. It's typical addict thinking, and it's one of the reasons why I hate the disease so much. It sabotages good people. In retrospect I suppose I should've been embarrassed by it, but at the time, I was not.

6 - WHY DOES A.A. WORK?

Because it's a group of like-minded individuals who have all faced the same battle in their lives, and are winning. Once you walk through the doors of a meeting, you immediately feel like you're at home. That's also one of the best things of going to meetings all over the continent; you don't feel like you're walking into a room full of strangers even if you're 3,000 miles from home.

And beyond that, as far as the mechanics of the association go, you'd have to go for yourself to find out. However suffice it to say that no one gets left behind and if you truly want to find sobriety, you will in AA. I've found the people who have the most success in Recovery are regular meeting attendees. Those who struggle to stay sober also struggle to go to meetings.

7 - WHAT PERCENTAGE OF PEOPLE GET SOBER VERSUS RELAPSING?

That's an incredibly difficult question to answer and I've seen numbers published that range anywhere from 50% to 90%. That question came out of the crowd when I was speaking at the Oak Tree Place fundraiser in Moose Jaw this spring and I settled on this answer:

"If you keep trying to get sober, no matter the setbacks, you will eventually get it. However if you stop trying, I guarantee you will not."

8 - WHAT'S YOUR ROLE IN RECOVERY AND/OR WHAT'S PEDERSEN RECOVERY?

First and foremost I'm a Person in Recovery, saved from Alcohol Addiction on 01-27-2015. Secondly, I'm an Advocate for Recovery, spreading the message of hope but also fighting for funding in the War on Addiction. Thirdly, I'm working as a Sober Coach/Interventionist for individuals struggling with Addiction, no matter where they may be in the Arc of Recovery: active addiction//treatment//aftercare. Fourthly, we produce sober events which are family-friendly and are an effort to normalize sobriety rather than normalizing drinking and over-indulgence. Watch for one near you!

9 - WHAT'S THE BEST PART OF SOBER COACHING?

Obviously it's watching people take on their demons head-on and have success on a daily basis. Then, it's rewarding to see them get their lives back, their families, their jobs and everything they hold dear, but lost due to the Disease of Alcoholism/Addiction. I'm a highly competitive person - probably from my background in sports - and I actually enjoy the war against Addiction everyday. I don't like to lose, and don't plan to.

10 - DO YOU HAVE A MESSAGE, MANTRA OR MISSION STATEMENT?

Yes. Two of them. 1) It's Never Too Late. Don't ever give up on yourself. I thought I was a lost cause, but thankfully there were a few people left who didn't give up on me. And 2) Anyone Can Be Saved. I've yet to come across someone who can't achieve sobriety if they truly want to. I refuse to give up on anyone. As Dr. Phil says, "I will never surrender to the disease."

RP
@PedersenRecovery

Thursday, August 2, 2018

RECOVERY PODCAST: RADIO ANNOUNCER MARK JOHNSTON

We're going local on this month's edition of the Pedersen Recovery Rodcast!

Regina radio personality Mark Johnston is making big waves across the province with his fun on-air persona and carefree approach to life. However his life wasn't always this way.

The 28-year old Regina product - and former junior hockey player - saw his life spiral to the bottom due to a battle with alcohol and drugs.

In this month's Recovery podcast, Mark takes us on his remarkable journey detailing his drinking career, introduction to drugs, his life-changing decision to enter Recovery and what his life's like now.

We also delve into some issues we've never covered on this show before like why he made the decision to go public with his story, and, how a sober person celebrates important milestones in life whether they be in Recovery or otherwise.

Pedersen Recovery Inc. is sponsored by Fine Foods Grocery Stores, Milk2Go Sport and CJ Evans Home Designs and their generous support makes all of our services possible including interventions, this podcast, public speaking and one-on-one coaching for those struggling with addictions.

I think you'll love our interview with Mark! Click below:





Wednesday, July 25, 2018

RECOVERY PODCAST: TSN'S MICHAEL LANDSBERG

I have to say I'm tremendously excited for you to hear this month's Recovery podcast interview because I think it's going to help A LOT of people.

National sports broadcaster and Mental Health advocate Michael Landsberg is our latest guest on the Pedersen Recovery Rodcast for Fine Foods, Milk2Go Sport and CJ Evans Home Designs!

The award-winning broadcaster and host of TSN's Off The Record is a household name in Canada but has only recently hit the speaking trail telling his story about his struggles with Mental Illness.

Specifically, Landsberg suffers from generalized anxiety disorder and depression which are a bitch. (In case you didn't know).  You'll learn from this interview that Landsberg knows all the ins and outs of Mental Health struggles, and is now a huge supporter for mental health awareness, popularizing the hashtag #sicknotweak in tribute to his mental illness.

Michael and I first crossed paths in the fall of 2008 when I was a guest on Off The Record in Toronto and, to put it bluntly, it didn't go well. The two of us failed to "click" and it made for an awkward episode which would never be destined for the Best Of file.

I later discovered that I had an experienced an anxiety blackout during the show and barely remember much of it.

Fast forward to now, and Michael Landsberg and I are both on the other side of our demons and are out campaigning across the country trying to help others.

I'm super proud to say that we're on the same team.

If you're battling Mental Illness, this month's interview should help a great deal. If you're struggling with something but can't quite figure out what it is, then this episode is a must-listen. It may trigger something in you to go get the help that you need.

A huge shoutout goes to our sponsors Fine Foods, Saputo Dairy's Milk2Go Sport and C.J. Evans Home Designs for continuing to sponsor Pedersen Recovery Inc. and bring you this podcast on a regular basis.

Now, let's hear from Michael Landsberg:

Saturday, June 30, 2018

MONTREAL GAZETTE: RIDERS' PEDERSEN GETS LIFE, CAREER BACK ON TRACK

The following story originally appeared in the Montreal Gazette's June 29/2018 edition, in the Inside The CFL feature, written by Hall of Fame writer Herb Zurkowsky:

REGINA — More than three years later, Rod Pedersen still tells the story when asked, almost as though it has become cathartic to relive his battle with alcoholism and the subsequent fight to become sober.

And each time the narrative becomes easier, each graphic detail of a life that was spiralling into self-destruction flowing more readily.

“They say when you can tell your story without crying, you’ve healed,” Pedersen said. “Most times, I can tell it without crying.”

Pedersen, 45, a big fish in a small pond, has been the radio voice of the Saskatchewan Roughriders for 20 seasons, a broadcaster at Regina radio station CKRM since 1995. And he easily could have lost it all.

The native of Milestone, Sask., a farming community (pop. 640) 50 kilometres south of Regina, began drinking at age 16.

Perhaps Pedersen was bored living in such a small town. Or perhaps it was the peer pressure. Or perhaps he succumbed to a genetic predisposition. His father, Jim, also a recovering alcoholic, drank for 43 years until 1974, and warned his son the condition might be passed down.

“I knew it was a potential problem. It was causing problems in my life early on. I just wasn’t willing to look at them,” Pedersen said. “I was drinking until I blacked out, and that didn’t deter me. I could not quit. The idea of reaching out and asking for help never donned on me.

“I thank God I never tried drugs. I wouldn’t be sitting here, talking to you today. I’d be dead.”

Pedersen, once the voice of the junior hockey Prince Albert Raiders at age 20, never drank before or during a Riders broadcast — the sanctity of that job in Saskatchewan simply too important. But he also hosts a daily sports talk show that, at one point, was simultaneously sponsored by three breweries, all of which readily made their products available at the station. And it wasn’t uncommon for Pedersen to broadcast the show from banquets or sports bars.



“It (beer) was like a magic tonic to me. I literally couldn’t get enough of it,” he said. “I wanted to drink to the point where I couldn’t move. I had it stashed all over the station. If I didn’t black out, I didn’t think I was drunk. The floor of my car vehicle was littered with beer cans. Shockingly, I didn’t think that was a problem.”

In summer 2014, Pedersen successfully auditioned for his dream job and was hired to become the radio voice of the Calgary Flames. And, when his drinking problem was discovered, quickly, he was removed from the position. That sent him into a deep depression — later diagnosed as anxiety disorder — and accelerated his drinking.

“If you thought I drank too much, just watch me. Now I’m going to drink more,” he remembered vowing.

The more he drank, the louder and more obnoxious he became. Once the life of the party, the funny guy with the one-liners, Pedersen quickly discovered none of his friends wanted to associate with him.

“That becomes the loneliest place in the world and, frankly, quite embarrassing,” he said.

Pedersen mixed anti-depressants with alcohol while on the job. He was frequently sent home from work and was forced by his employer to sign documents stating, were he drunk in public or at work, he would be terminated. Finally, in January 2015, drugs in his system and so drunk he was incoherent, Pedersen was suspended, told to enter a recovery program or he’d be fired.

“I gave them more than enough reasons to terminate me,” he said.

The first year of his recovery battle was the most difficult, Pedersen said, avoiding the temptation of reaching for a drink; the constant battle raging in his head between the good and bad voices, along with the craving for alcohol.

Pedersen will never say for certain the habit has been kicked. He wants to say it’s behind him, and believes that to be true. He proudly proclaims he vacationed at an all-inclusive Mexican resort last winter, not one drop of alcohol touching his palate despite the voice in his head arguing nobody would know if he had just one drink. What would it matter?

Pedersen continues to attend Alcoholics Anonymous meetings once a week. He attended classes in the U.S., received a diploma as an addiction-treatment specialist and coaches recovering alcoholics three or four times each week. He also works in conjunction with the Betty Ford Center.

Most importantly, on Saturday night, after the Riders-Alouettes broadcast concludes, Pedersen will go straight home where his wife since 2012, Cindy, will await.

“A lot of people didn’t think I could overcome this and win the battle,” Pedersen said proudly. “That was the fuel, to prove them wrong. It’s a happy story, and the world doesn’t have a lot of them.

“Don’t give up on yourself, because I did. Anybody can be saved.”

hzurkowsky@postmedia.com

http://montrealgazette.com/sports/football/cfl/inside-the-cfl-riders-radio-host-gets-his-life-career-back-on-track

Thursday, June 21, 2018

RECOVERY PODCAST: SKIDROW CEO JOE ROBERTS


OTTAWA - This month's Pedersen Recovery Rodcast comes to you from the Nation's Capital.

As I'm learning quickly, Recovery is a small world. Multi-millionaire businessman Joe Roberts is known as the "Skidrow CEO" and his Recovery story is one of legend. The 51-year old was a homeless, drug-addicted teen in Vancouver but after getting sober in his early-20's, he became the President & CEO of a Fortune 500 company in less than a decade.

And then he relapsed. He went from living in a 4,500-sq foot home overlooking downtown Vancouver to living in a van. Joe had to rebuild himself all over again, and he did.

In the spring of 2017, Joe came through Regina as part of his cross-Canada tour raising awareness and funds for youth homelessness. He literally pushed a shopping cart from Newfoundland to Vancouver, symbolic of what he lived out of as a teen.

During that stop in Regina, Joe asked me to join him out on the TransCanada Highway.

So I did. And we connected. The photo above is evidence of that.

So during a work trip to Ottawa this week, I happened to learn that Joe Roberts was speaking at a convention at The Westin Ottawa.

I went and tracked Joe and his wife Maria down at the Shaw Convention Centre during his pre-event soundcheck and we caught up.

And, as luck would have it, the Skidrow CEO sat down to share his inspiring personal story with our podcast.

As always, we are brought to you by Pedersen Recovery Inc. sponsors Fine Foods, Saputo Dairy's Milk2Go Sport Pro and C.J. Evans Home Designs. I encourage you to click on their ads and try them out. I'm so grateful for their sponsorship.

Now, to this month's podcast with Joe Roberts:

ADDICTION EXPLAINED

Addiction, unfortunately, is sweeping the continent and destroying families, careers and lives at a record pace. It's hard to imagine any individual, or family, who isn't affected by Addiction in some form or another.

If you have a loved one, employee or friend who's battling Addiction and their actions baffle you, keep reading.

If you yourself are in the grips of Addiction and want to find a way out, then definitely keep reading.

The Hazelden Betty Ford Foundation's Carrie Kappel (Associate Director, Health Care Professionals Program) gave an hour-long presentation via webinar on Wednesday entitled Addiction: Part Art, Part Science.

I was invited to participate in the event as a partner of the Betty Ford Center. The Foundation regularly sends me their research studies for use in my own presentations (teenage marijuana usage, prevalence of substance abuse among military vets, intervention techniques, etc.).

Ms. Kappel's address was clear, concise, and explained the Disease of Addiction in easy-to-understand terms. As someone who's successfully battled Addiction and is now striving to help others find the road to Recovery, I found the talk very worthwhile.

Here are some key points from the session:

- Addiction is a brain disease.

- Addiction is treatable.

- Up to 70% of Addictions patients at Betty Ford Centers have other Mental Illnesses besides Addiction but those abate over time and the patients learn coping skills in treatment to manage them.

- Addiction is not a moral or ethical problem although the behaviours of the alcoholics/addicts raise questions about morality. "Why are they drinking again?", "Why are they using again?"

- Addiction is not a personality disorder and it is not a choice. The only choice is the initial choice to drink or use. After a period of time, the body begins to drive the choices they make. The brain gets "highjacked" by the body's physical needs.

- Addiction is not the same as casual use. It's a compulsion to use the alcohol even if the brain doesn't want to. We often hear "I don't remember why I made the decision to drink".

- Intoxification is a reward circuitry disease in the central regions of the brain. It causes surges of dopamine. Dopamine is our "feel good" transmitter which drives the bus. All drugs of abuse enhance the release of dopamine.

- People know their actions are wrong but they are driven by their bodies to get the drug or alchohol. That's why they steal, continually drink and drive, or leave their children alone. It is out of their control.

- The decisions made by people with the Disease of Addiction don't make sense to other people. Once they get into treatment, they begin to see their problem from other peoples' perspective and how their disease has affected them.

- In treatment they learn coping skills and tools to continually battle the disease for years to come.

- Benzos intoxification is very similar to alchohol. Benzos are benzodiazepine medications. These drugs are referred to as benzos and are widely prescribed for a variety of medical and mental health concerns. Xanax was the mostly widely prescribed psychiatric medication from 2005 to 2013. Benzos have hypnotic, muscle-relaxant, or anticonvulsant properties. They can provide anxiety relief.

- Opioids are drugs that act on the nervous system to relieve pain. Continued use and abuse can lead to physical dependence and withdrawal symptoms. They come in tablets, capsules or liquid.

- Opioids contributed to 40,000 deaths in the USA in 2016. That led to changes in how opioids are prescribed.

- Methodone is a full opioid agonist meaning it binds to the dopamine receptors. It can reduce cravings and improve treatment retention. It can decrease criminal activity because addicts aren't stealing to fund their addiction to opiods. Methodone is taken on a long-term basis.

- Opioid withdrawal can feel terrible to the patient but rarely has serious consequences, and is rarely lethal. It can feel like having the flu times 10, but the withdrawal symptoms aren't permanent.

*Hopefully this blog post helps people understand the Disease of Addiction a little more fully!

RP
Twitter: @pedersenrecover
Instagram: @pedersenrecovery
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/pedersenrecovery/

Thursday, June 7, 2018

RECOVERY PODCAST: INTERVENTION TV'S ANDREW GALLOWAY

In the latest Pedersen Recovery Rodcast, we're taking a detour from our usual theme of having sports figures share their Recovery stories.

On this program I'm joined by Mr. Andrew Galloway, a professional Interventionist from the television program Intervention TV Canada which airs on Slice and in the United States on A&E.

Andrew is the former National Director of the Edgewood Health Network, is the co-owner of Hired Sobriety along with Bob Marier, and also works as an Addictions Counselor in Toronto.

Simply put, he's a heavyweight in the Recovery community in Canada.

We met at Intervention Training in New York City in May, put on by Earl Hightower of Hightower Associates. We became fast friends, and Andrew offered to be a guest on our podcast!

On this show Andrew will share his personal Recovery story, and we'll get a behind-the-scenes look at Intervention TV. We'll also explore how Interventions are changing the face of Recovery in North America, and how you can get help for someone struggling with Addictions and Alcoholism.

We'd like to thank Pedersen Recovery Inc. sponsors Milk2Go Sport Pro, Fine Foods and C.J. Evans Home Designs for their continued support of our Recovery efforts!

You can listen to the show here:





MAILBAG: FIELDING QUESTIONS ON ALCOHOLISM & ADDICTIONS

It's been several months since I invited questions from blog readers on Alcoholism & Addiction, and did my best to provide answer...